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All Things Ampersand

Encaustic Grounds on Panel

Encausticbord from Ampersand

The term ground refers to a prepared surface for painting.  A ground is applied to a substrate, or support, that can be wood, board, stretched canvas, or an alternative.  As a general guideline, grounds for encaustic painting must be absorbent, so acrylic gessoes are not recommended.

If you are already using Encausticbord, you have all the preparation you need.  However, if you want to prepare your surface, these are the best recommendations for working on an uncoated panel.

R&F Encaustic Gesso
A brushable white ground that dries to a ready-to-paint absorbent surface.  This is the easiest, fastest way to prepare a white ground for encaustic painting, (unless you’re using Encausticbord.)  R&F Encaustic Ground differs from typical acrylic gessos by having a higher proportion of solid to binder, making it highly absorbent while retaining the adhesive qualities of the acrylic. 

natural wood panelNo Ground
You can paint directly on raw wood, such as the Natural Wood Panel.  It will be stained by the encaustic, however, so some artists prefer to create an Encaustic Paint Ground by painting a layer of encaustic directly on the wood, and then working up from it.  Many artists who work this way prefer to make their ground with either clear or white encaustic paint because they show subsequent colors to full advantage. The drawback to this method is that it requires a higher degree of skill in controlling the paint, because the wax ground is susceptible to heat, and has the potential to re-melt and change as you work.

Paper Ground
A white ground can be created by gluing watercolor or printmaking paper onto a supporting panel.  The heavier the paper, the more absorbent the ground.  Bear in mind that lightweight papers will be made translucent by the wax, resulting in the substrate showing through and darkening the tone of the ground.  This can be avoided by first coating the bare panel with white acrylic paint, or R&F Encaustic Gesso. Allow it to dry before gluing the paper down on top of it. White grounds are generally desired to show colors to full advantage, but any absorbent paper can be used.  Braced or cradled substrates are preferable to avoid warping.

Traditional Rabbit Skin Glue Gesso
The most traditional, time-tested ground for encaustic, but it is a time-consuming and elaborate process that does not appeal to everyone.  It does create an incomparably beautiful ground.

~“Encaustic Grounds”, R&F Handmade Paints, www.rfpaints.com 

More encaustic resources can be found through the R&F Handmade Paints Encaustic Center.

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Current Events for Ampersand Artists

All about Encaustics for this round of Current Events.  If you have an upcoming exhibition, workshop, or call to artists, let us know.  We would be glad to add you to our upcoming Current Events blog posts.

5th Annual Call for Artists to the National Juried Encaustic Exhibition

This Exhibition is a National Exhibition, open to all encaustic/wax artists whether they are a member of the Encaustic Art Institute or not. However, any artist who is a member of the Encaustic Art Institute and resides in Canada or Mexico is eligible to enter. Artists may enter up to three images per entry for review.  Only one (1) piece per artist may be selected for the exhibition.  Juried by Bruce Helander.  To apply for this exhibition:  
Click HERE to apply for 2015 National Juried Encaustic/Wax Exhibition 

Patricia Seggebruch at work

Elise Wagner opens a solo exhibition, “What Remains” at the Frederick Holmes and Company – Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA on June 4th, 2015.  “What remains is the evidence of where things end, transform, and begin again.” – Elise Wagner, a 2015-2016 Pollack-Krasner grant recipient.  

Lisa Pressman offers a full list of workshops around the country, via her website.  These include workshops with R&F Handmade Paints in Kingston, NY, a workshop in Telluride, CO and another in MA before the year ends.  Her schedule lays out workshops for 2016 as well and they sell out early!


New Workshops from Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch at pbsartistOpenStudio coming this fall and more about those details coming up!

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.